Mosquito Lookalikes & How to Tell Them Apart

how to identify mosquitos

When it comes to buzzing insects that look like dreaded mosquitoes about to leave us with itchy bites, we don’t tend to look closely at them before we swat them away. However, what you’re hitting might not be the feared outdoor enemy that you think it is. Certain flying insects share similar characteristics that can resemble mosquitoes but are completely different species that could mean no harm to you. Let’s take a closer look at these mosquito lookalikes!

crane flies

Crane Flies

Crane flies are insects that look like mosquitoes with long legs and slender bodies. However, these insects are weak fliers that don’t sting or bite. Contrary to popular belief, crane flies don’t eat mosquitoes. Crane flies are active in the fall and spring, with a large presence in lawns near open fields or wooden areas. This is because the adult female lays eggs in the grass. Rain can often increase the growth of the population of Crane Flies.

Crane flies can either be black, red, or yellow. With their very long, thin legs, they can trick you into thinking that they are mosquitoes. However, they are typically larger than the common mosquito with more elongated faces. Another one of the main distinctions of crane flies is their smoothed wings. They don’t have the sharp mouthpiece, known as a proboscis, that mosquitoes use to bite you. When the crane fly is when resting, it’s body remains straight as opposed to the humpback appearance of mosquitoes.



Mayflies are insects that can be found in fast-moving streams, rivers, or other bodies of freshwater. They tend to swarm in large numbers. Mayflies don’t bite and have useless mouthparts and digestive tracts because once they become adults, they can no longer feed.

Mayflies are distinguished from mosquitoes by their longer, more pronounced wings. Mayfly wings also resemble the wings of a butterfly, and they’re held together upright over the body. This insect also has striped arms and can have two or three tails. Mayflies have a long, brownish-gray body with long, compound eyes and short antennae.


Midges at first glance can appear to look like very small mosquitoes. These insects also have an uncanny resemblance to gnats. Midges are drawn to stagnant water – just like mosquitoes, however, they don’t bite and therefore cannot carry or transmit diseases. Adult midges fly slower and in swarms, often seen in “clouds.”

Midges are smaller in size but have very similar legs to mosquitoes. Their wings are scaleless and shorter than their bodies, and like crane flies, they have a straight body when resting. Midges also have their thorax closer to the surface. They don’t have the sharp mouthpieces to feed on humans.

fungus gnats

Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats feed on plant roots and fungi and are most active in the fall, spring, and early summer. You can find them near potted plants or resting on foliage. They are weak fliers and are attracted to lights, which is why you can often spot them around your windows.

Fungus gnats are around the same size as mosquitoes, so it can be tough to tell them apart from mosquitoes. However, they have spiny, slender legs. Plus, their antennae are longer and they don’t have a proboscis to bite. They have small black bodies with large light grey to clear wings.

ID Mosquitoes

How to ID a Mosquito

So, what DO mosquitoes look like? Although they can be easily mixed up with some other flying insects, they do have some unique features that can help you identify them:

  • Size ranging from 1/4th to 3/8th of an inch
  • Narrow, oval-shaped body
  • Gray with white, silver, green, or iridescent blue scales that look like hair
  • White strips across the abdomen
  • Long legs
  • Long “nose” (or proboscis) that females use to draw blood

Mosquitoes like humid areas with stagnant water, however, can be found all over the United States. They are nocturnal species. Mosquitoes frequently bite at dawn and dusk. Of course, one of the easiest ways that you can tell the mosquito from other insects is the bite.

However, you don’t have to deal with them. By using one of our Mosquito Magnet® Mosquito Traps, you can help put an end to the swarms of mosquitoes in your backyard.

Keeping Mosquitoes & More Out of Your Yard

There are a lot of flying pests out there that can ruin your outdoor experience. Put a stop to them with Mosquito Magnet® products that effectively rid your yard of these biting pests. Let us know what kind of pests you’re dealing with when you’re outside – and if they are, in fact, mosquitoes - on our Facebook Page. Stay up to date by signing up for our e-newsletter and get the latest info on mosquitoes, exclusive deals, and more delivered right to your inbox.

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